YouTube Shorts – How to Take Advantage of this Format
To compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube has also made the shift towards short video. YouTube Shorts were revealed in September 2020. At first, they were only accessible to a group of beta testers. 9 months later, the platform opened up the new feature to more than 100 countries.
This announcement surprised many. Until now, YouTube seemed to encourage users to make long videos.
The objective was simple: to make sure that people stay as long as possible on the social network. However, short videos also form part of the platform’s history. The first video uploaded in April 2005 by the founders is called “Me at the zoo” and it lasts only a few seconds.
15 years on and the format has been transformed, with a focus on vertical videos. It has also become more dynamic.
This homecoming is not insignificant for the YouTube team. It aligns itself with the desires and behaviour of its users. Today, 70% of the videos on the application are consumed on smartphones. But until now, the content put online was more for consumption on computers and tablets.
With YouTube Shorts, users can view short, vertical content. This new creative opportunity aims to make it easier to upload quality videos.
Indeed, it’s now easy to create via your phone. “YouTube Shorts is a way for anyone to connect with a new audience using just a smartphone and the Shorts camera in the YouTube app. YouTube’s Shorts creation tools makes it easy to create short-form videos that are up to 60 seconds long with our multi-segment camera“, YouTube says on its support page for the feature.
With all these changes, you probably have a lot of questions. How to create YouTube shorts that stand out from the crowd? How can this new format fit into an already established editorial line? What are the benefits of this new format for content creators?
We offer a complete overview of this feature to help you take advantage of it.
The Complete Guide to YouTube Shorts
How to create short-form content on YouTube?
Since March 2021, all users have access to this new feature. And you’ve probably noticed it. You can find these videos in your subscription feed or news page.
These are not to be confused with YouTube Stories, which as the name indicates, is content available for a limited time.
YouTube Shorts are accessible all the time, like a video you’d upload on your account. The process is the same as a typical upload if you’ve already recorded and edited your short video.
Open your browser, click on “upload a new video” in the top right corner and fill in the title, description, thumbnail, keywords… in other words, all the necessary information to ensure a smooth upload.
YouTube much prefers that its users create directly via its proprietary tool. With the Shorts format, users can record themselves, add music, filters or edit footage. To do all this, here are the steps to follow:
- access YouTube from your phone and select the little “+” in the bottom middle of your screen,
- then click on create a short,
- You’ll access an open screen on your camera. You can film by pressing and holding the middle circle (a button we all know from stories) or upload content you have already filmed,
- on the top right, some editing tools are suggested: adjust speed, access a timer..
- then fill in the title, the caption, the thumbnail, the keywords… like a typical edit.
Finally, all you have to do is click publish. It is recommended you add #shorts in the title. This allows you to have your video on the dedicated page of this new format which is accessible here.
Note that YouTube provides a music library for videographers. 250 labels and publishers have agreed to be part of it. Unlike TikTok or Instagram’s Reels, Shorts doesn’t necessarily rely on audio. Creators seem to be freer to use any track to create their content.
How do users access YouTube shorts?
Once this is done, you’ll probably ask yourself a question. How will this video appear on the platform? “We are constantly testing new ways to deliver content to viewers, especially for Shorts,” the team says. Though the tool is still in beta, it already appears in many places.
Here is where your video appears:
- in your followers subscription feed,
- on the YouTube homepage;
- in the notifications section;
- on your channel page,
- by clicking on a Short, then scrolling to view others,
- via the hashtag at the top of the videos.
Some content will be more promoted than others. With this format, YouTube wants to boost the creativity of its users. You can now create lots of exciting content with just a smartphone. Shorts offer freedom and opportunity for videographers.
To rank these videos, YouTube relies on three pillars:
- creativity: to captivate a new audience in a few seconds, the short content must be dynamic and enjoyable to watch, otherwise users will skip it.
- discovery: the team is proud to have two billion users in the world every day. But longer content is hampered by a single barrier: language. It’s hard to watch a video in Spanish if you don’t know how to speak it. To prevent creators from getting stuck, YouTube has launched these short videos with the idea that videographers will take advantage of them to make universal videos, where gestures are enough to understand the story.
- Watching: the time spent on our phones is increasing year after year. When we have a few minutes to spare, we all have this reflex to grab our phones and scroll Instagram. YouTube wants users to do the same with shorts. Do you have five minutes to spare? Entertain yourself while waiting for your train, your next appointment, your taxi… by watching a short video.
In a word, you’ll have to be creative to get noticed!
Why focus on Shorts?
Every minute, YouTube users upload 500 hours of content on the platform. It’s hard to stand out in this stream of videos, each more elaborate than the next. However, there is still one area that does not seem to be overcrowded on YouTube: short content.
With YouTube Shorts, the team is opening up a new avenue for small creators. Many examples in recent months prove that these videos can help boost an account that is struggling to gain visibility. We have three examples for you to consider.
Alyssa McKay, Katie Feeney and Hannah Moteya are TikTokers. Like many content creators, they prefer to grow on different platforms at the same time to have engaged audiences on multiple social networks. All three were inspired to turn to YouTube. But unlike TikTok – ByteDance’s app, they met a lot of difficulties in growing their accounts. They succeeded by making short content:
Alyssa McKay has 8.5 million followers on TikTok. In February 2021, she used shorts in beta when it was only accessible to a small group of users. After six months of content, she has grown from 40,000 subscribers to over half a million.
Hannah Montoya has 3.8 million followers on TikTok. She struggled to reach tens of thousands of followers on YouTube. By creating shorts for a month, she added more than 125,000 additional subscribers to her account.
Katie Feeney has 6.3 million followers on TikTok. In six months of using YouTube shorts, she has grown her community by over 750,000 subscribers.
This new format is still not widely used in France, which leaves the field wide open for brands and content creators who’d like to use it. It is also rare to see advertisers running influencer marketing campaigns via this format.
To help you dream up your next creative campaigns with YouTube Shorts, the Influence4You platform allows you to find the right influencers and to guide you on the right strategy to adopt.
Make it big on YouTube Shorts with these three tips
Knowing how to create short content on YouTube and knowing that others have managed to gain subscribers is all well and good. But in practical terms, how can we make the most of this new feature?
Before you get started, we suggest you ask yourself these three questions:
- What short content is my community looking for? You are already have long videos that have found their audience. To avoid repeating what you already offer, it’s recommended that you find a new way to communicate about your sector by focusing on different publications.
- Avoid anything long, even for YouTube Shorts! YouTube Shorts allow up to 60 seconds of content. Even with an 8-second video, you can attract a new audience. Don’t hesitate to go very short.
- Elicit emotion. Finally, even in a few seconds, your viewer must be transported into a universe or a story. One of the biggest difficulties will be to share emotion in such a short time. And that’s your challenge!
As shorts are still very new, there are no real established rules yet. The canvas is blank and it’s up to you to to make your mark!
Some examples of YouTube shorts
For now, very few French video makers use this feature. We’ve made a selection of those who have already got involved in Shorts and seem to be doing well.
Popslay is a show hosted by Guillaume since a few months. Each week, he decodes a piece of music or the career of a burgeoning artist in pop music. At the same time, he decided to upload shorter videos. They are a perfect complement to what he already offers as they include information related to his topic, but shared in a different way.
Guillaume shares more juicy details about artists and music.
Let’s take a second example to show you that anything is possible. Noa is a YouTuber specialised in humour. He is very successful with his main channel where more than one million people are subscribed to him. To have more fun, he launched a second channel where he only posts short videos.
Conclusion on YouTube Shorts
To allow its videographers to stand out and have all the tools they need to create both short and long formats, YouTube offers Shorts. These videos of less than a minute compete head-on with TikTok’s flagship format and Instagram’s Reels. The popularity of the video platform has encouraged YouTubers to get involved.
The teams also created a $100 million fund to encourage users to upload via Shorts. The best videos of each month will be notified and will be able to receive a part of the profits generated by the advertising on this content. Going to the hashtag dedicated to Shorts, already more than 120 million videos have been uploaded from over 9 million different accounts.
To continue to encourage its users to stay on the platform to post short videos, YouTube needs to think about how best to showcase this new format. Going forward, YouTube will work on lengthening of the duration of shorts. Are you ready to share a few seconds of your day with your subscribers?
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